The Players Studio casts a wide and expansive net in the theater community, and it's looking forward to another fall season of education and enrichment.
You might be a player and not even know it.
The Players Studio, and education program from The Players Centre for Performing Arts, reaches more than 200 kids and aspiring actors of all ages, and it’s hosting its annual Back to Studio Bash open house on Aug. 20 in the hope of reaching even more in the future.
Brenna Wickstrom, the studio’s director of education, says the open house will feature the best The Players has to offer. There will be performances from production groups, mini classes, games and a chance to register for future enrollment.
“We will also be hosting a school supply drive at that time where families can bring in any unused or gently used school supply items,” says Wickstrom. “They’ll receive free registrations for the fall/spring semester.
And then we'll donate those items to any students in need.”
The Players Studio, established in 1995, has been teaching the art of theater for decades. Wickstrom and the studio instructors and performers are just coming off a busy summer full of theater education. From May through the first week of August, says Wickstrom, the studio was overrun by children enrolled in the theater’s themed mini-camps.
The kids — aged five to 10 — learned songs and dances and scenes from movies and plays, and then they put on a mini-production for their families in the studio. There was also a four-week musical theater production camp for kids aged 11 to 17, and they worked all month to perform in "We Will Rock You" on Aug. 4 and 5.
But the fun isn't just for kids; The Players also works with older actors. The Players Follies is a free community theater group for ages 50 and up, and Wickstrom says it’s great to work with actors of all ages.
"We start as young as six months all the way to 106," jokes Wickstrom. "And if you're 107, we'll make an exception for you."
What does a daily enrollment at the studio look like? That depends on which classes you take.
“During the fall in our regular scheduled classes, we could be working on scripts, we could be working on scenes,” says Wickstrom. “We could be exploring theater history or exploring on-camera acting. We could be exploring the foundations of tap and jazz. I mean, we do all kinds of different stuff here at the studio. So it just kind of depends on what interests you.”
Wickstrom says that many of the studio’s younger students are first-time actors, but the students who are in middle school or high school are probably active in their school drama departments. The Players Studio coordinates with Booker High School and Sarasota High School to give their shared actors the widest array of performance opportunities.
The studio also offers classes to kids involved in homeschooling, and Wickstrom says this year that the studio is even offering early childhood education for the first time in a while.
Most of the action at the studio occurs on Saturday and that the studio might have as many as 40 or 50 aspiring actors in it at the time. The two full-time instructors and several part-time assistants have their hands full keeping them busy.
“We'll have kids who are here as bright and early at 8:30," Wickstrom says of the Saturday classes. "They start at 9, and then they do not leave here till 2:30 in the afternoon. They're here all day having fun taking back-to-back classes.
"If we have our homeschool group, they will also be here taking back-to-back classes for two or three hours. And then some people just drop in for an hour to take a tap class on a on a Tuesday or Wednesday.”
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